Local gov’ts reminded: Get vaccines only through ‘tripartite’ deal
Officials reminded local governments on Tuesday that they could obtain COVID-19 vaccines for their constituents only through a “tripartite” procurement agreement with the manufacturers and the national government.
“The reason for this is the policy of vaccine manufacturers around the world to deal only with national governments,” Vince Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said in a televised press briefing in Malacañang.
Dizon said the government was in talks with several vaccine makers such as Pfizer and Moderna of the United States, Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm of China, and Gamaleya Institute of Russia.
It was this “tripartite system” that allowed the private sector led by businessman Joey Concepcion, the presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, to seal a deal for 2.5 million doses of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca in November, Dizon said.
Half of the doses would be donated to the government and the other half would go to employees of the various companies that put up the money to purchase the shots.
Quirino Gov. Dakila Carlo Cua, president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, said local governments should closely coordinate their plans to purchase vaccines with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
Cua said almost all local governments have signified their willingness to acquire the vaccines for their constituents.
But he said the plans and the decisions of the local executives should be based on the rules set by the IATF, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said it was disgusting and embarrassing that the national government was still deciding which vaccines to acquire when local governments and the private sector already were firming up plans to procure the shots.
“Now, the 2.5 million doses of AstraZeneca are arriving, but that only happened because of the initiative of the private sector,” Lacson said in a radio interview.
“Isn’t it disgusting that it is the private sector that is leading the effort for us to acquire the initial vaccine that is, after all, proven and used by other countries? This is embarrassing for the government,” he said.
Some of the local governments in Metro Manila that have set aside funds to procure vaccines for their constituents are Manila, Makati, Pasig, Navotas, Valenzuela, Caloocan, Marikina, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Taguig and Quezon City.
The Quezon City government said it would soon finalize its contract with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Philippines and the national COVID-19 task force after the city council greenlighted the agreement.
Mayor Joy Belmonte said the city government would immunize its constituents for free. The first doses will be given to about 10,000 health workers, 300,000 elderly and 20,000 adults with disabilities.
The city government earmarked an initial P1 billion in its 2021 budget for the vaccination program in December.
Mandaluyong City has set aside P200 million from its 2021 budget for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for its constituents.
Taguig City said it had P1 billion from its P13.5-billion COVID-19 “recovery budget” to ensure all its residents would be vaccinated, according to Mayor Lino Cayetano.
Pasay City has P250 million for vaccines for 275,000 residents, according to Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano.
Rizal province’s capital, Antipolo City, and two of its first-class municipalities, Cainta and Taytay, have also allocated funds to inoculate their constituents.
For total coverage
Cainta Mayor Johnielle Keith Nieto, on Tuesday, said he was aiming for a “hundred percent coverage” of the town’s population of 310,000.
Antipolo City Mayor Andrea Ynares said the city had P300 million for a vaccine rollout by the second or third quarter.
In Puerto Princesa City, Mayor Lucilo Bayron issued Executive Order No. 1 on Monday creating a committee of senior officials to plan out ways to purchase shots from the global market as soon as the Food and Drug Administration approved regulations allowing local governments to procure their own vaccines.
The city government intends to inoculate at least 70 percent of its 292,896 residents to obtain herd immunity with a P247-million budget for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
In Albay province, mayors are considering using their calamity funds to purchase vaccines.
Libon town mayor Wilfredo “Das” Maronilla, Albay Mayors League (AML) president, said he was coordinating with the local IATF and DOH officers for COVID-19 vaccines guidelines so that he could plan inoculation procedures.
In Davao City, Mayor Sara Duterte said her government had sent letters to vaccine makers around the world to get direct access to vaccines.
The mayor said Pfizer had replied that it would only negotiate with the DOH. Another manufacturer replied giving the “same answer,” she said.
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm) has allocated P500 million for vaccines for its constituents in five provinces, which have a total population of 4 million.
Barmm acting Health Minister Amirel S. Usman said the money was part of the region’s P75.6-billion budget for 2021 that was approved by the interim parliament two weeks ago.
In Zamboanga City, Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar, said the city council approved an initial P200-million fund in the city’s 2021 budget to purchase COVID-19 vaccines.
—With reports from Darryl John Esguerra, Villamor Visaya Jr., Cristina Eloisa Baclig, Nikka G. Valenzuela, Meg Adonis, Germelina Lacorte, Dexter Cabalza, Julie S. Alipala, Maricar Cinco, Romar Miranda and Mar S. Arguelles
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